Steroid hormones travel through the cell membrane and bind to receptors either in the cytosol or on the nuclear membrane to influence genomic processes.
Because steroid hormones affect DNA transcription, their effects are generally much longer lived (until the gene is turned off and all of the gene products are gone). Penetrating the cell membrane and affecting transcription (and translation) is a longer process. Thus, steroid hormones are slow acting and do not produce immediate responses.
Natural steroid hormones are derived from cholesterol and synthesized in the gonads and adrenal glands. Thus, the hormones are specialized forms of lipids and pass through the cell membrane, unlike peptide hormones.
Because steroid hormones are lipids and can pass through the cell membrane, they bind to intracellular and intranuclear receptors.
Steroid hormones can bind to intranuclear receptors and affect DNA transcription by turning certain genes on or off as a response mechanism.
Testosterone is the primary male sex hormone, and this steroid hormone has numerous effects on the body. It plays a role in genital differentiation, puberty, hair patterns, as well as muscle growth.
Alsosterone is a mineralocorticoid steroid hormone. Aldosterone controls plasma sodium, and as a byproduct of sodium’s activity on homeostasis, this hormone has a large effect on arterial blood pressure.
Estrogen is a steroid hormone that serves as the primary female sex hormone. It has a myriad of functions, playing a role in ovulation, sexual libido, bone formation, coagulation, lipid metabolism and uterine structure.
Cortisol is a type of steroid hormone referred to as a glucocorticoid. In response to stress and low blood sugars, it is released, working to increase blood sugar. This hormone also decreases bone formation and suppresses the immune system.
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